Culture For Humanity: Dissolving Darkness

Story Behind New Global Initiative 

A Ray Amid Gloom

It is amazing how our sub-consciousness works, or what drives it. In March 1989, 31 year ago, my husband and I were in agony: we were losing our daughter Yulia-Yenike, the only child, to cancer caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe two and half years back. For months, we were living in a hotel in Finland, being practically in quarantine: moving between that hotel room and the hospital, with rare occasional shopping of essentials, very few of it, that’s it. We were not in social isolation though. Finnish people of all walks of life were caring for our daughter and us, and this really kept us on.  

One day back in March 1989, my husband Michael, a scientist-turned-artist said completely out of the blue: “What do you think if we organised a charitable culture organisation combining the artistic efforts of all sorts in order to provide psychological and other possible support to the sick people and their families?’ There were the three of us at our hotel room at the moment, our daughter was sent ‘home’ to relax a bit during her harsh treatment. We both were enthusiastic about Michael’s idea. We have had many friends in art and culture circles, it was our life, and we knew that they all are predominantly generous people who would be happy to share their art, especially for charitable purposes. The haunting gloom and anxiety were all of the sudden enlightened with rays of hope and light, for all three of us.

Inna Rogatchi (C). Rose Dramatique. Watercolour, Indian Ink, crayons a encre, crayons Luminance, hand-applied pigment of bronze on original authored archival print on cotton paper. 30 x 40 cm. 2019.

For us, it was our way to say  cordial ‘thank you’ to so many people and institutions in Finland who did help us in our desperate situation with such grace, efficiency, kindness and modesty. Michael also saw the potency in the systematic charitable work using anything that art and culture can produce to help the others. For us, children suffering from cancer and their families were natural priority. We did not say it to Julia though. She was thinking that the organisation was set to help ‘all sick people and their families’. We generalised on  purpose when she was present during the discussions, to spare her from a psychological pressure. 

Arts Against Cancer: 1989-2004

This was the beginning of our international cultural philanthropy journey which lives its own life of more than 30 years by now. Our Arts Against Cancer International Cultural Charity, AAC was functioning the first fifteen years of our ongoing cultural philanthropy. 

Michael Rogatchi (C). AAC logo dedicated to Mstislav Rostropovich. 1989.

Our artistic friends, both in Finland and beyond it, in Russia, Bulgaria, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, later on the UK and USA, Italy and France, and many other countries were great and more than that, always ready to participate, generous, fun, inventive. 

Our patrons were superb. We were lucky to have great Mstislav Rostropovich as the Honourable Benefactor of AAC, with another great Maestro Vladimir Spivakov and one and only Maurice Bejart being  among the members of the International Advisory Board. The Queen of Denmark Margrethe II, Barbara Bush, Sir Paul and late Linda McCartney did express their warm support. The Presidential couple of Finland, Mauno and Tellervo Koivisto readily participated in several of the AAC public events  with warmth and grace giving such important and personally warm support in their emphatically modest way.

With every one of them we had discussed the matter personally. Not a single one ever said ‘no’. Our approach was simple: we were reaching to the people who have had similar to our family situation, like it was in the cases of Bushes, the Denmark Royal Family, and McCartneys, partially; and as for the world of arts, we were reaching to our friends and acquaintances. 

Thinking back, I am convinced that it is due to our friends and their unwavering support to our active AAC philanthropic activities that we were able to keep on, after our only child passed away in September 1989. 

AAC was very busy: charitable exhibitions, charitable concerts, charitable art special events in all possible fields of art: visual arts, ballet, music, publishing, sometimes bits of all of it together. Most importantly, we were able to help: buying an apartment for the parents whose children were getting long and exhausting medical cancer treatment; financing for five years position of paediatrician onco-haematologist; organising permanent medical consultations between Finnish and Estonian doctors to treat certain cases of rare child cancer in Estonia; buying and supplying Bulgarian Academy of Medical Science with rare and extremely expensive Finland-manufactured medicine for the children badly affected by Chernobyl there; helping children attacked by cancer and their families whenever we can, with charitable art. 

Maestro Rostropovich opens his and London Chamber Orchestra charitable concerts in support of AAC at the opening of Tampere Hall, Finland. October 1990. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation Archive.

We were very lucky with the people who were willing to do it with us. During fifteen years, only one singer asked how much he would be paid for his performance ( he was not invited ever after); and only one boss of a public body in Baltic region asked: “I cannot get it: what for you are doing all that?” We excused us to leave his office in a few minutes.  

The Rogatchi Foundation: from 2004 onward

After intensive 15 years of work, our AAC was transformed into the currently operating The Rogatchi Foundation – www.rogatchifoundation.org , the international cultural and educational charitable foundation that focuses on education and culture and promotes our Outreach to Humanity various projects, but never ever left our initial care on children cancer patients and their families, as well as help to youth and elderly in need, aside. How can we? It  is an integral and essential part of Michael’s and mine inner thinking on what we do in this life. 

We have wonderful people with us again: Maestro Evgeny Kissin and famous architect, the author of POLIN Museum professor Rainer Mahlamäki are members of our International Advisory Board, along with the director of the Italian National Institute of Health and founder of Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Arts, Literature and Music Award professor Domenica Taruscio, members of the European Parliament and national European parliaments, top diplomats, heads of highly reputed public organisations in Europe and USA.  

We have a rule to have a charitable element in all and every art and culture event that our Foundation organises , co-organises or participates in, including charitable international art auctions, exhibitions and concerts. It gave us a precious possibility to provide help to Italian boy stricken by cancer and his family; to support Lithuanian cancer institute, schools in Latvia and Finland, children and elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel, to co-found a position of specifically trained medical nurses for certain categories of cancer patients in the UK, to partner with The Rose Foundation in the US in providing special medical chair for incapacitated patients, to support Finnish Aamu Foundation that provides vital help with professional data exchange for children cancer patients within Europe, and so on. We know that there is always a  need for many things of this kind, and we are trying to do our best to help. For a long time by now, a philosophical concept of good has become a practical life-mode for us. It is just a natural thing to do, and we both do feel it as very rewarding because it fills your life not just with a purpose, but it provides a possibility to see the concrete results of needed help provided. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Ceremony of the XII Italian National Arts, Literature and Music Il Volo di Pegaso Award organised by the Italian National Institute of Health. February 2020. Rome, Italy. The Rogatchi Foundation is a partner in this important project.

In the end of 2010s, I was busy inventing and creating a lot of art works in the new direction, patent-pending now Lux Sei Art ® which are works of art that provide psychological comfort to sick people and their families. It turned to be much more demanding process than I anticipated, because it had had to satisfy many criteria: works should not be gloomy, obviously, but it also should not be idiotically over-jolly; there should be very carefully selected colours , not too soothing to be boring,  but not too exuberant either; the themes and images of the works should be thoughtful, and it should take into account all and every element that might lead to disturbing or sad association among the people who would be seeing it. 

I did not expect it to be that elaborated and time consuming process, I must admit. But the result of it when it is done right was very rewarding. This kind of specifically designed and created art was happily accepted by many hospitals and hospices in Finland, UK, Italy, Japan, USA and Israel, it also is used as a tool for providing psychological support for cancer patients in Spain, Japan and Finland. We know that it serves people well. Our Foundation is very glad to provide as much of it as we possibly can to many establishments in various countries, and we do it still. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). Very happy winners of the Italian National Arts, Literature and Music Il Volo di Pegaso Award, children from a special needs’ school at the stage of ceremony in Rome, with attentive patrons and members of the jury. In front – Dr Domenica Taruscio, the founder of the Award. February 2020. Rome, Italy. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation Archive.

Out of these long 31 years of active philanthropy, we can say that support and solidarity is a life-rope for so many, both literally and metaphorically, with metaphorical meaning of it is often encompassing and durable. It does provide people with extra-strength in daring situations, always.  

CULTURE FOR HUMANITY: Boosting the Spirit In the Time of Corona 

And now we all are living in daring times, indeed. We are confined, to different degrees, everywhere. We are nervous and afraid. We are perplexed and anxious. We live in multiplied uncertainty that bears more and more uncertainty of different sorts, and that uncertainty pyramid accelerating in its growth does put unparalleled pressure onto each of us.

We are crying for Italy, we are terrified because of Spain, we are very concerned for the USA, the countries affected the most, apart from China. We are amazed by doctors and medical personnel world-wide, and our hearts are wrenched because of tragedies that they all are living through daily. They do need to work, and to be attentive and efficient in their life-saving mission. Where do they get the strength from, both physical and psychological, to keep on?

We are numbed in front of closed churches and synagogues – and yes, Zoom is good but it does not suffice in this area of our life, so we are certainly limited in this essential spiritual part of our existence. Just to think that there will be so many isolated people during the Passover Seders worldwide, and that so many others who celebrate Easter will have to do it in this sudden solitude, wrenches one’s heart. It does.

Michael Rogatchi (C). Letter to Beloved One. Indian Ink, oil pastels on Italian hand-made dark – blue cotton paper. 50 x 50 cm. 2011. The work has become the model of the Culture for Humanity (C), (R) global initiative project of The Rogatchi Foundation. The Rogatchi Art Collection.

We are saluting quiet heroes of anything that still serves us in the time of the pandemic which has no cure so far: personnel of stores, pharmacies, posts, police, emergency services, desinfectors, taxi-drivers exposed to huge risk daily,  people who are working in transportation and logistic sector providing us with goods to their very best; officials in multitude of ministries who are working round o’clock to keep it all under control, those media who are working honestly and in time. They all are heroes. 

But doctors and nurses are on a front-lines today, and I just think on how on earth mankind could ever express so incredibly well-deserved our all’ gratitude to them. And also, how and when they would be psychologically restored after all the trials that they are going through daily, with the situation developing in a worrying way and expected to last for quite a while?  

We all found ourselves in an acute stress today, simultaneously, everywhere. We do not remember when mankind has had such experience of simultaneous super-stress, with existing life-threat so wide. 

In this connection, Michael and I were thinking on  our own and our friends’ art works. We can tell out of long experience that for many people, art in many of its forms can boost the spirit. It can inspire, it can shift  anxiety towards something lighter and brighter.  

So we appealed to our friends again, this time for a new mission, to join us in our new global initiative Culture for Humanity © , ® . Under the circumstances, we will have to operate in a remote mode, but thanks to the existing technical possibilities, we will be able to reach the audience widely. We will produce a weekly special Art Bulletin with various art by us and our faithful friends and colleagues artists, photographers, sculptors, singers, musicians, composers, actors, people of cinema and theatre, writers and poets as members of our Creative Circle; and with  art, literary, music and film critics, art curators, museum specialists, gallerists, and art collectors as members of our Recommendation Circle

Inna Rogatchi (C). Rose Song II. Brave Roses series. Watercolour, crayons a encre, crayons Luminance, hand-applied pigment of pale gold. 40 x 40 cm. 2020.

We will supply you all with food for eyes and ears, with delicacies for mind and heart, to boost our all’ spirit, to infuse us with hope, to share the solidarity of the cultural world conveyed via beauty with everyone on the planet. Beauty heals, it is a scientific fact.  We will conduct our new mission keeping in mind high aesthetic standards, and doing our bit in creating an art-vitamin for all. 

We are very grateful to our dear friends, so talented people from the world of culture, to embark on this mission with us. 

We are also very glad to have many wonderful partners among leading public organisations and institutions world-wide to share our weekly Culture for Humanity ©, ® Art Bulletin among their audience widening the network of good. 

Great Ennio Morricone and his wonderful family were the ones of the first to embark on this mission. Fantastic Maestro Yevgeny Kissin did not hesitate for a minute and spoke with the Deutsche Grammophon team to be able to participate and support the sharing of his art with everyone. Music director of Music & Sanita project, leading guitar player and composer professor Giorgio Albiani and great ballad singer of our times Bertold Karsten Troyke were among the first friends to join our all effort with what only soulful art can do: to dissolve the darkness. 

Inna Rogatchi (C). In the Tune of Love. Contributors to Culture for Humanity Special Art Bulletin, Edition 1. March 2020. Courtesy (C) The Rogatchi Foundation.

The Art Bulletins will appear from the end of March 2020 weekly on The Rogatchi Foundation site – www.rogatchifoundation.org , as well as on several pages on Facebook , Twitter and other social media. We are very grateful to our design and internet team for their dedication and great work on this important mission. 

When loving kindness becomes our main occupation, you do know – and you feel it too – that your life is gracious to you because it warms you up by the reflected light that you are trying to disperse. 

Be well, all and everyone of you, take care of your beloved ones, family and friends, and we will try to get something beautiful to you every week, to heal your nerves and to evoke the spring and sun for each of you and among all of us together. 

The point is to walk on the sunny side of the street, together.  In any weather. 

March 2020

About the Author
Inna Rogatchi is internationally acclaimed writer, scholar, artist, art curator and film-maker, the author of widely prized film on Simon Wiesenthal The Lessons of Survival. Her professional trade-mark is inter-weave of history, culture and mentality. She is the author of the concept of the Outreach to Humanity cultural and educational projects conducted internationally by The Rogatchi Foundation of which Inna is the co-founder and President. She is also the author of Culture for Humanity concept of The Rogatchi Foundation global initiative that aims to provide psychological comfort by the means of high-class art in challenging times. She is the wife of the world renowned artist Michael Rogatchi. Inna's family is related to the famous Rose-Mahler musical dynasty. Her professional interests are focused on Jewish heritage, Holocaust and post-Holocaust, arts and culture. She is running several projects on artistic and intellectual studies on various aspect of the Torah and Jewish spirituality. She is twice laureate of the Italian Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Art, Literature and Music Award, the Patmos Solidarity Award, and the New York Jewish Children's Museum Award for Outstanding Contribution into the Arts and Culture (together with her husband). Inna Rogatchi is the member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association and member of the International Advisory Board of The Rumbula Memorial Project ( USA).
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